About 100 companies in Japan will work together to put nanocellulose, made from wood fibers, into practical use as a next-generation material, with one-fifth the weight of steel but about five times the strength.
Companies involved with its development include paper manufacturers, automakers, chemical companies and others.
They aim to utilize the new material for manufacturing auto parts, construction materials, artificial blood vessels and various other purposes.
Because nanocellulose is made mainly from wood chips, it is considered friendly to the environment. Thus, the government plans to support the development as part of its economic growth strategy.
Nanocellulose is made by chemically processing fibers contained in wood. The fibers are dissolved into pieces, each of which is measured on a nanometer scale. One nanometer is one-millionth of a meter and is about one-hundred-thousandths of the thickness of a human hair.
Self-Defense Forces troops were mobilized Monday to help fight an outbreak of avian influenza at a poultry farm in Kumamoto Prefecture, southwestern Japan.
Some 200 personnel from the Ground SDF’s eighth division based in the city of Kumamoto helped cull chickens and bury them underground at the request of the prefectural government.
The move came after the H5 subtype virus was detected Sunday in broilers that died at the farm in the town of Taragi, the first outbreak of highly pathogenic bird flu in the country in three years.
A total of about 112,000 chickens are slated to be culled at the farm as well as another farm in the Kumamoto prefecture village of Sagara run by the same farmer.
The prefectural government on Sunday conducted an investigation into approximately 230 poultry farms in the prefecture breeding more than 100 chickens in total. As a result, no problem was found at them except for the one in question, officials said Monday.
A giant squid has been captured alive by a fisherman in western Japan.
Tetsuo Okamoto was harvesting turban shells at a depth of 8 meters when he saw the squid moving overhead about 300 meters off Shin-onsen Town in Hyogo Prefecture.
Okamoto tied it to his boat and took it to a port.
The mollusk is 4.13 meters long and estimated to weigh 200 kilograms. It had lost both of its longest tentacles.
A four-meter-long daio ika giant squid has been found inside a fixed net off Sadogashima island, Niigata Prefecture.
Fisherman Shigenori Goto found the squid Wednesday morning. According to Goto, it was swimming in a net for catching buri yellowtails set about 70 meters deep and about 1 kilometer off the nearest port when he hauled it up at about 7 a.m. The squid died after being brought to the surface.
It was taken to the Niigata prefectural government’s fishery and marine research institute in Niigata, where it was discovered to be male. The squid weighed about 150 kilograms.
Japan got just a little bit bigger this week, as a volcano created a brand new island about 600 miles (970 kilometers) south of Tokyo.
The island is about 660 feet (200 meters) in diameter, according to the Japanese coast guard. It sits off the coast of Nishinoshima, itself a small, uninhabited island in a group of about 30 islands known as the Bonin Islands, or the Ogasawara chain.
Asked by the media if the new island will soon get a name, Japanese government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga replied that officials will first wait to see how long it sticks around, since new islands have a tendency to disappear back below the waves in a short time.
A team from the International Atomic Energy Agency said Monday the Japanese government should communicate well to the public that the country’s goal to reduce annual individual radiation exposure to 1 millisievert in areas contaminated by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis cannot be achieved in a short time.
“The government should strengthen its efforts to explain to the public that an additional individual dose of 1 millisievert per year is a long-term goal,” the team said in a preliminary report released after its weeklong mission on decontamination efforts in Japan, adding such a strategy would allow resources to be reallocated to the recovery of essential infrastructure in disaster-hit areas.
The report also said that Japanese institutions are encouraged to increase efforts to communicate that a dose in the range of 1 to 20 millisieverts per year is “acceptable” and “in line with the international standards.”
Following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster that resulted in the release of massive amounts of radioactive substances outside the plant, the Japanese government is aiming to scale down areas where over 20 millisieverts of annual exposure is measured to help evacuees return to their homes.
As for areas with doses of less than 20 millisieverts, the government has said it will seek to bring down the figure to 1 millisievert or below as a long-term goal.
But according to Environment Ministry officials, some people are concerned about returning to areas that have not achieved the long-term goal.
Let’s face it: The Nobel Prizes aren’t for everyone. That’s why we celebrate the Ig Nobel Prizes, which were handed out Thursday night at Harvard’s Sanders Theater.
The Chemistry Prize investigated the age-old mystery of why onions make people cry. The winning team, from Japan, showed that the plant biochemistry at work involved a previously undiscovered enzyme called lachrymatory-factor synthase. If onions could be engineered without that enzyme, it may be possible for them to retain their flavor and nutritional value without causing eyes to water, they wrote in the journal Nature.